Rizwan Pandit, a school principal who died in police custody in Jammu and Kashmir’s Awantipora on March 18, was tortured, said his brother on Wednesday.
“The torture marks on his body were completely visible,” Mubashir Hassan said. “His left eye was completely black and the left side of his face had swelled up. He also had a head injury and there were two stitches on his head. His thighs were completely tortured. There were burn marks and cuts on them.”
“His stomach had swelled,” Hassan added. “There was blood in his nose indicating that he might have suffered nose-bleeding. Also, there was mud in his left ear. They had tried to dirty his face.”
Hassan claimed that the autopsy was conducted on Pandit’s body without the family’s permission. “They had carried out postmortem without our consent at Srinagar’s Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital and we haven’t got its report till now.”
Hassan said the police had asked the family to collect Pandit’s dead body at Srinagar. “Since it was the police which arrested him, we told them they have to ensure his body reaches home,” he added. “Around 7:10 pm on Tuesday, the body was handed over to us from the local Awantipora police station.”
Officials at the hospital said the autopsy report has not yet been submitted to the police. Doctors said they cannot disclose the cause of Pandit’s death. The government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death.
“We haven’t got the details of postmortem yet and the inquiry has just started,” Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Atul Goel said on Wednesday. “Whatever is the legal time-limit of the enquiry, the investigations will be completed within that period.”
A senior police officer said it would be “better to wait for the outcome of the inquiry”. He also claimed that the family’s consent is not required for the autopsy. “Postmortem is legally mandatory,” he said. “The consent of the family for autopsy is not important because a magistrate is always there and it’s carried out under his watch. Besides, it will unearth the facts about the cause of death.”
The Joint Resistance Leadership, a group of separatists Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, have called for a strike in Kashmir to protest against Pandit’s death. All shops and commercial establishments in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk remained closed due to the bandh on Wednesday. Mobile internet services were snapped in southern Kashmir.
On Tuesday, protestors clashed with security forces in Awantipora.